Creating support and connections for multicultural students

DJ Kelly-Quattrocchi is a multicultural education, engagement and student success coordinator

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

DJ Kelly-Quattrocchi
Multicultural Education, Engagement and Student Success Coordinator

How long have you worked at the UO?

I started in 2017, so this is my fourth academic year here.

Tell us about your work:

As the multicultural education, engagement and student success coordinator, I do large-scale event programming and organize guest speakers for events like Weaving New Beginnings. Weaving New Beginnings is a welcome event for faculty, staff and students of color and their allies. It is held during week four or week five of fall term each year. I love Weaving New Beginnings because it’s one of the only times I’ve experienced being in a room of mostly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Being BIPOC at the UO can feel very scary and isolating – especially in classes and at work – so it’s always a great experience to look around the room and see that there’s more of us than we think.

I also get the opportunity to work with the catering office and curate a menu that will mean something to almost everyone. My goal is that everyone who attends can see themselves, their culture and experiences, through something on this menu. While that may sound kind of odd, we build our community as BIPOC by coming together and socializing as we eat and drink. This event is quite the joyous occasion, but there’s always a call to action which is great too.

Beyond event programming, I support our MEChA chapter as they put on the Raza Unida Youth Conference, which is a conference for Latinx high schoolers within the state of Oregon, and support the Native American Student Union (NASU) as they put on their powwow each year. I also run the Intercultural Mentoring Program Advancing Community Ties (IMPACT) as well, which is a peer mentoring program for students of color and first-generation students.

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day consists of answering emails, event planning and supporting the student coordinators for the IMPACT program. I participate in some curriculum planning for the IMPACT program as well, and just added doing some work with first-generation college students to my portfolio. I have a working group that does programming and tries to build support and infrastructure for these students on our campus.

I also work with University Housing as a programs coordinator for the Multicultural Residential Community. Normally that would mean being on the floor with students and providing co-curricular opportunities that will help support them and the schoolwork that they’re doing. Since the pandemic hit, a lot of those activities have changed. I now do a lot more research on how to address the needs of our students in a remote capacity without overburdening them. I don’t want to burn anyone out because I know that Zoom fatigue is a real thing.

My work also evaluates how accessible basic needs are to students. I collaborated with Haley Wilson and conducted a meal box event for the long weekend around Thanksgiving. We ordered food from UO Catering and distributed it to LGBT and BIPOC students for free. Once they signed up, the students picked up the boxes or we dropped them off. We got this idea from the Black Cultural Center, and thought it was a positive experience since we didn’t know how many students were able to go home for Thanksgiving. We wanted to make sure they had food and something special for them that weekend. 

What do you like about working at the UO?

I have an amazing professional and student staff team that allows me to be autonomous as I make decisions about the needs of our students. My student staff members help me keep a bit of a pulse on what’s happening so my work can be adaptive. I really appreciate the opportunity to focus on the importance of the co-curricular and curricular harmony, so our graduates can be well-rounded when they leave. It’s not just the classes you’re taking – those are obviously very important, what you get towards graduation – but our co-curricular activities really can and should augment that experience and provide more context, views, ways of life.

I also find that working with students for multiple years is exciting because I am able to see where they start and end up after working with me and the Dean of Students Office. I still keep in touch with students I supervised during my first year. Some are in law school and others are doing amazing things with nonprofits. We text and check in every once in a while, so it’s really cool to see how their education at the UO applies to their career. 

What keeps you motivated?

I am motivated by the work I get to do with my student team, as well as the Multicultural Identity-Based Support Services staff. I’m on a team of professional staff within the Dean of Students that includes our LGBTQ coordinator, nontraditional and veterans coordinators, the Women’s Center director, the Black Cultural Center coordinator, and our own Dean of Students director. It’s one of the few times I’ve been on a team that primarily consists of a diverse collective and is really focused on identity work. I appreciate the opportunities we have to support each other with the programming we do, while personally being able to be support structures for our community.

What is something people may not know about you?

Dance and music have always been a huge part of my life. I played flute for nine years, I sang for seven years, and I danced for five. During my undergraduate and graduate studies, I knew how to teach 22 styles of dance. I took a lot of dance classes and was even part of the leadership team of our ballroom club.

DJ Kelly-Quattrocchi works in the Office of the Dean of Students.

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